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NEW YORK, Aug. 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In Douglas Ward's inaugural Berlitz River Cruising in Europe, apart from the meticulous descriptions, evaluations and star ratings (he applies the same vigorous criteria that he does to the ocean-going liners in Berlitz's Cruising & Cruise Ships, whose new 30th-anniversary edition publishes in September), there are numerous side features that may have particular interest and topicality for passengers and cruise professionals. For example:
Question: Is seasickness a problem aboard a rivership?
Answer: No. A rivership, with its flat bottom, is designed for very shallow water and travels at no more than 11 mph. No waves, no seasickness. Itineraries can, however, be affected by low or high water.
Question: Is there medical assistance available?
Answer: Unlike an ocean cruise ship, there is generally neither a doctor nor a nurse on board, but riverships are always close to land so emergency medical arrangements can be made quickly.
Question: Are there differences between river cruise operators?
Answer: Yes. Remember brochures and websites are designed by the company itself. Use brochures to determine which itinerary attracts you, but use the book for an objective, no-holds-barred rundown on what's really good (and less so) on a particular vessel.
Question: Who's got the best food?
Answer: Top choices in Europe would include AmaWaterways, Viking River Cruises and Uniworld.
Question: Are river cruises suitable for disabled passengers?
Answer. Not really, although some riverships do have elevators, typically between the main deck and the restaurant. Some have elevators between all decks, and a few riverships have wheelchair-accessible cabins. Well to keep in mind, though, that it's on land where most problems arise, with many historic continental European cities having cobbled streets, steps with no ramps and few facilities aimed at those with disabilities.
Question: What's the general demographic for river cruises?
Answer: River cruises tend to appeal to those wanting to experience the heart of a country and its people instead of simply traveling through it. That is why river cruising is such a keenly immersive experience.
Question: Since there's a new destination every day, what's the deal on excursions?
Answer: A real river cruise plus--excursions are often included in the overall price of the package, although this depends on the operator. Always--to repeat, always-- read the fine print when you book any cruise, whether a river cruise or an ocean-going one.
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